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The Crown of Halacha

Spiritual Alchemy | Rabbi Channen

Spiritual Alchemy
Hashem spoke to Moshe: “Speak to the children of Israel, and have them take for Me an offering; from every person whose heart inspires him to generosity, you shall accept My offering. And this is the offering that you shall take from them: gold, silver, and copper; blue, purple, and crimson wool; linen and goat hair; ram skins dyed red, tachash skins, and acacia wood; oil for lighting, spices for the anointing oil and for the incense;  shoham stones and filling stones (evanai meuluim) for the ephod and for the choshen. (Shemos 25:1-7)

Turning Wood to Diamonds
Since the evanai shoham v’evanai meuluim are so precious, we would expect them to be the very first thing used for building the Mishkan. Yet we start with the lesser items:  gold, silver, copper, etc.  Next comes aromatic incense, which is commonly found in the desert. Finally the precious stones are mentioned. Why are they last?

A Gift Unearned
There was no way the Jews could obtain these invaluable stones in the desert and some were so rare one would have to travel the world to find them. We cannot even imagine their worth!  Therefore Hakodesh Baruch Hu removed some of these from His heavenly table, wrapped them in clouds, and sent them to us special delivery! (Or Hachaim 25:6).

Hashem Wants Our Heart
When Hashem asked us to contribute to building the mishkan, he wasn’t interested in the monetary value of our gifts. He was interested in how much work we put into our contributions, and how much we cared. The Kohanim delayed giving until the end and by that time the only things missing were the stones, which were received effortlessly. Because the unique and precious stones were obtained easily they were considered the least valuable of all the donations!

How Spiritual Alchemy Works
Therefore, the gifts are listed in terms of the mesirus nefesh that Am Yisrael infused into each one. Gold takes the most energy to mine and shape, next is silver, then copper, ending with the gathering and preparing the incense.

Hashem Values What Others Do Not See
There is a hidden value in living a Torah life, the part that only Hashem sees. With mesirus nefesh we are able to turn even the simplest act of chesed into a deed surpassing great contributions and endowments. When an exhausted mother wakes up night after night to feed her baby, can we put a price on that? When a poor person gives his money to help someone even poorer than him, doesn’t Hashem cherish that act? What about the Hatzala volunteer who responds to a call during a family simcha—how much is that worth? The list is endless and we are all adding to it again and again. If we evaluate our mesirus nefesh in helping others and serving Hashem I believe we will find that we are a very wealthy nation indeed.

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